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2019 Royal Ascot day one tips – Race-by-race tips on the opening day of the Royal meeting

Blue Point (centre) beating Battaash (left) and Mabs Cross (far) in the 2018 King's Stand Stakes.

Our expert takes a look through the three major Group One races on day one at Royal Ascot and provides readers with his selections on Tuesday 18th June.

For many, Royal Ascot is the highlight of the British sporting summer, bringing punters and royalty together with its unique blend of celebration, celebrity and scintillating sporting drama. Royal Ascot gets off to a flying start on day one, with three prestigious Group One race highlighting Tuesday’s festivities.

Our expert has cast his eye through the ante-post betting for each of the six races on the opening day of Royal Ascot and provides readers with his betting suggestions.

Royal Ascot Day One Tips

2:30pm Ascot (Str) Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) 1m

Accidental Agent headed a finish of roughie’s to hand Even Johnston-Houghton a famous win in this race 12 months ago and, after a solid third in the Lockinge last month, he could challenge for the victory once again. Zabeel Prince ran a blinding race to win the Prix d’Ispahan last time out and could be a big player over this shorter trip, especially if the ground doesn’t come up too firm.

Mustashry stole the headlines at Newbury last month, proving once again that Sir Michael Stoute is the best handler of older horses in the business by powering to a stunning victory in the Lockinge. While Mustashry’s triumph was impressive, only Solow and Ribchester have managed to claim back-to-back victories at this level since the days of Frankel and, considering Stoute’s five-year-old isn’t anywhere near that standard, I think it’s worth taking the favourite on.

Romanised and Le Brivido made eye-catching progress from the rear to finish fourth and fifth in the Lockinge and neither can be ignored. The one I took out of the Lockinge, however, was LAURENS (13/2 Totesport), who finished the race like she was in need of the run and Karl Burke’s filly should be primed to make a huge impact on her Royal Ascot debut.

The racing world rejoiced when Burke and enigmatic owner, John Dance announced the four-time Group One-winning filly would remain in training as a four-year-old. A swift start in the 
Lockinge saw Laurens take her customary position at the head of the field and PJ McDonald was the final jockey to flinch as the protagonists made their winning move.

After travelling so sweetly throughout the race, I was surprised to see Laurens find so little when she came off the bridle, allowing Mustashry to come through and claim his first Group One victory. Despite succumbing to defeat, none of the other runners were able to pass a Laurens who was clearly just below peak fitness. I would be surprised if this hardy filly hadn’t come on significantly from that run and, at 8/1, she looks the best bet in a wide-open race.

Main Bet - LAURENS e/w  (13/2 Totesport)
Next Best -
ACCIDENTAL AGENT e/w (10/1 Coral)

Laurens (centre) cannot stop Mustashry (third right, blue and white cap) claiming victory in the Lockinge at Newbury.

3:05pm Ascot Coventry Stakes (Group 2) 6f

The Aidan O’Brien factor has pushed Arizona to the head of the market. This son of last year’s break-out sire, No Nay Never clearly has bundles of ability and could follow in the footsteps of Carravaggio and War Command. There is, however, better value to be found beyond the favourite and the biggest threat to the well-bred favourite could, indeed, be THREAT (3/1 Totesport).

Richard Hannon threw this son of Footstepsinthesand straight into a Class Three maiden during the Guineas meeting and Threat seemed to have his work cut out, carrying odds of 10/1 into battle against a well-backed Godolphin hot-pot. Tom Marquand’s mount got off to a flying start, but seemed to be a sitting duck as the favourite took aim coming out of the dip.

Despite having his stride checked at a crucial stage, Threat never looked like being passed. Hannon’s colt comfortably held Electrical Storm at arm’s length, even pulling clear of the favourite in the closing stages to clock an impressive time. I tipped Threat up at a much bigger price than this ante-post. I'm not about to desert him now, despite his odds looking decidedly short.

Main Bet – THREAT (3/1 Totesport)
Next Best – MONOSKI e/w (12/1 Coral)

3:40pm Ascot King's Stand Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) 5f

Imprimis recovered brilliantly from a poor start to beat Bound For Nowhere as the pair made their reappearance in the Shakertown Stakes and Joseph Orseno’s US raider is a speedy sort to be feared. There are also a couple of talented three-year-old’s taking on their elders in this year’s King’s Stand too, with both Sergei Prokofiev and last year’s Windsor Castle Stakes winner, Soldier’s Call likely to garner each-way support.

Nunthorpe winner Alpha Delphini has also proven himself worthy of a big mention. Yet, the top three from last year’s King’s Stand feature prominently in the betting once again and, with all three seemingly still at the peak of their powers, it’s hard to ignore the star names at the top of the market.

Battaash tried to see the field off from the front last year and almost managed to hold on, until Blue Point pounced in the final furlong. Charlie Hills’ claims that Battaash had rediscovered his finest form during the off-season rang true last month, as his five-year-old scorched to victory over some talented opposition on his return in the Temple Stakes. 

There’s no doubting the favourite is the more fearsome sprinter in the business when at the top of his game. Yet, Battaash’s career has been littered with inconsistency and a tendency to blow up before his races makes Jim Crowley’s mount an extremely risky betting proposition.

Blue Point found results hard to come by after winning this race last term, suffering comfortable defeats in the July Cup and the Nunthorpe. Charlie Appleby’s sprinter flew the flag for Godolphin brilliantly during the Dubai World Cup carnival, winning three Grouped prizes without breaking too much of a sweat. There’s no doubting he has the speed and power to claim back-to-back Royal Ascot victories. I just feel that MABS CROSS (8/1 Coral) has been underestimated once again and there’s plenty of scope for an each-way punt on Michael Dods’ mare.

A sluggish start put Paul Mulrennan on the back foot straight away in this race last year and he was already working hard at the half-way point. Mabs Cross responded very nicely to her rider’s urgings, powering down the centre of the track to claim third as the top three drew clear of the chasing pack. Following an agonising defeat in the Nunthrope, Dods’ five-year-old finally secured the Group One victory she richly deserved at Longchamp, getting her nose to the line first in a thrilling renewal of the Abbaye.

Few gave 2018’s top sprinter much of a chance as she carried a hefty penalty into the Palace House Stakes on her reappearance, but Mabs Cross proved her doubters wrong by snatching a narrow victory. Once again, Mulrennan’s mount was forced to give weight to her rivals in the Temple Stakes and Mabs Cross ran nicely once again, crossing the line three lengths behind Battaash in third.

Now pitched back in to Group One level, Mabs Cross’ weight-for-sex allowance will come back into effect and the Abbaye heroine will run without the burden of a penalty. Dods’ mare proved time and again last season that she’s a consistent sprinter of the highest calibre and 10/1 is a price not to be ignored.

Main Bet - MABS CROSS (8/1 Coral)

4:20pm (Rnd) St James's Palace Stakes (Group 1) (Colts) (British Champions Series) 1m

Along with Laurens, Phoenix Of Spain is amongst my favourite horses in training. I, regrettably, chose not to tip him in the Irish Guineas, fearing the time he had spent off the track would come back to haunt Charlie Hills' charge, preferring to wait until he is inevitably stepped up in trip later in the campaign. 

While I was disappointed that I didn’t back Phoenix Of Spain, I was delighted to see Jamie Spencer’s mount claim Classic glory at the Curragh. Spencer nailed his fractions as Hill’s powerful grey saw off plenty of talented rivals from the front but, while that was undoubtedly an outstanding performance, I still feel Phoenix Of Spain could be slightly vulnerable over a mile.

Magna Grecia failed to back up his victory in the British 2000 Guineas at the Curragh, crossing the line a rather tame fifth. Skardu was my each-way selection that day, but he didn’t finish as strongly as I would have hoped and had to settle for fourth place. TOO DARN HOT (9/4 Totesport) came through to finish closest to Phoenix Of Spain, passing the post a three-length second. Many would consider that a disappointing result, but I thought it was an encouraging effort - considering the circumstances - and there are plenty of reasons why Too Darn Hot could turn the tables on his Curragh conqueror.

Injury forced last year’s top juvenile out of the British Guineas and a half-baked plot to point Too Darn Hot at the Derby was foiled when Gosden’s colt lost his unbeaten record when second to Telecaster in the Dante. Just ten days after that gruelling effort over an unsatisfactorily lengthy trip, and taking his injury lay-off into account, you could have forgiven Too Darn Hot a tired display at the Curragh. Yet, Gosden’s top colt ran a hugely respectable race, finding Phoenix Of Spain a little too hardy on the front end.

Once Newmarket had been ruled out, I’m sure the St James’s Palace Stakes would have been at the forefront of Gosden’s mind for Too Darn Hot. The fact he’s been able to take in, and run very well in, two high-profile races beforehand can only be a boost to his chances and, at 4/1, Too Darn Hot could be the best bet on day one of the Royal meeting. 

Main Bet - TOO DARN HOT (9/4 Totesport)
Next Best -

Phoenix Of Spain (left) holds off Too Darn Hot (right) to win the Irish Guineas.

5:00pm Ascot Stakes (A Handicap) 2m4f

16 of the past 18 winners of the Ascot Stakes came from National Hunt, or dual-purpose yards, so backing a trainer from the world of jumps racing is clearly the way to go. Buildmeupbuttercup will be out to try and hand Willie Mullins his fifth triumph in the past eight years and the booking of Ryan Moore looks significant. On this occasion though, I would rather side with his Irish rival Gordon Elliott, as MENGLI KHAN (6/1 Coral) is clearly the class-act in the field.

Mengli Khan was already rated 96 on the flat by the time he moved over to Ireland, having secured some impressive wins during his time with Hugo Palmer. Since then, the six-year-old son of Lope De Vega has claimed Grade One glory over hurdles, before stepping up to chasing last term, placing in prestigious novice contest at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals.

The old Mick Fitzgerald adage goes you take 45 pounds off a jumper’s rating to find their mark on the flat. Rated 150 over hurdles, Mengli Khan should carry a mark of 105 to post if you go by that logic, so he would be nine-pounds well-in if he runs off his old flat rating of 96. Softer ground will only bolster Mengli Khan’s chances and 7/1 looks like a cracking price to me.

Main Bet – MENGLI KHAN (6/1 Coral)
Next Best – BATT'S ROCK e/w (12/1 Coral)

5:35pm Wolferton Stakes (Listed Race) (Class 1) 1m2f

Mountain Angel is a horse I’ve been following with great success over the past couple of seasons and I still think Roger Varian’s hardy five-year-old has more progression left in his locker. Elarqam finally ended his alarming slide at Goodwood and could gain a heap of confidence from that win. While both hold significant appeal, I think the Wolferton will really suit a horse like ADDEYBB (7/1 Totesport) and William Haggas’ charge currently sits on an appealing, each-way price.

Following superb triumphs in the Lincoln and the bet365 Mile, Haggas’ charge headed into the Group One Lockinge as the ante-post market leader. Once the ground came up firm on the day, Addeybb’s price drifted and James Doyle’s mount sustained a small injury in finishing a distant eighth. Haggas then waited until Champions Day to get Addeybb back out on the track, throwing the five-year-old into the QEII, where he looked extremely rusty and was barely mentioned. 

I NAP’d Addeybb as he made his reappearance at Chester earlier this month. I’m a big fan of James Doyle, but I thought he gave the former Group Two winner a terrible ride that day, dropping him out the back – during a meeting where no-one was making up ground from the rear - and getting rolling far too late to trouble the prominent runners.

Addeybb has flourished when pitched into a large fields, he loves extra juice in the ground and has winning form on the round course here at Ascot, having snatched victory in a competitive handicap during his three-year-old campaign. Daniel Tudhope takes the ride, with Doyle committed to Godolphin and I fancy Royal Ascot could be the stage of Addeybb’s triumphant return to top form.

Main Bet – ADDEYBB e/w (7/1 Totesport)
Next Best – ELARQAM (9/2 Totesport)

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2019 Royal Ascot day one tips – Race-by-race tips on the opening day of the Royal meeting

Our expert takes a look at all six races being staged on day one at Royal Ascot and provides readers with his selections on Tuesday 18th June.

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